Tim Richardson has lived in the Washington Park neighborhood since he was a child. As a teenager his two favorite activities were basketball and causing trouble. Because there were basketball courts around back then, on any given day he'd be playing the game. It was the 1980's, and there was also a lot of criminal activity. If he wasn't playing ball, he was taking part in neighborhood crime.
The people around him were getting sent to prison and the day came when he understood that he needed to live differently. He got a job in manufacturing and things were going just fine. However, someone he knew encouraged him to pursue an opportunity in social work. He got the job and found himself counseling the victims of crime. He worked with the families of murder victims, and was also on the basketball courts leading youth in regularly scheduled play. He was now a man learning what it was to help others and discovering that he actually possessed something called empathy.
When the economic downturn arrived, jobs in social work became much harder to get, and another vocation transition became inevitable. While for the past 12 years he'd been helping people to heal, now he's helping to heal houses. As a handyman in the Washington Park neighborhood, it seems that there's always work to be done.
A lot of change has occurred in the neighborhood over the years. One thing Richardson believes hurts the kids of today is that the basketball courts have been closed down. It was a good thing for young people to do with their time and it's something he thinks they still need.
Tim Richardson, interview by Matt Lathrum, June 2014.
Mr. Richardson describes how it felt to help people in his previous career
Mother lost her home
Helping to beautify
Tim Richardson talks about how he does have hope for the neighborhood.